The Independent Redistricting Commission was established as part of the Arizona Constitution by a ballot measure, Proposition 106, in 2000. Authority is found in the Arizona Constitution, Article 4, Part 2, Section 1.
Redistricting is a process of redrawing the lines for congressional and state districts following each U.S. decennial census. The Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission is required to establish congressional and legislative districts for the state that comply with the provisions of the U.S. Constitution and the U.S. Voting Rights Act. The Commission is also required to establish, to the extent possible, districts that have equal population; are geographically compact and contiguous; have boundaries that respect communities of interest; use visible geographic features and existing political subdivision boundaries; and favor competitive districts. Specific criteria for each step in the process is outlined.
The Constitution prescribes the selection process for the five Commission members, which begins by January 8 of years ending in “one.” No more than two members of the Commission may be from the same political party and the selection must be complete by February 28 of that year.
The Commission on Appellate Court Appointments selects a pool of 25 persons who are qualified for appointment to the IRC, with ten nominees from each of the two largest political parties and five who are not registered with either of the two largest political parties. Selection of four of the members are made by the President of the Senate, Speaker of the House of Representatives and the minority leaders from each chamber, who each select one Commission member. The four commissioners select the fifth member from the nomination pool. The fifth commissioner may not be registered with any party already represented on the commission. Selection is made by majority vote. The fifth member serves as chairman of the Commission.
The Constitution also establishes the process for the IRC to develop a map of congressional and legislative districts. The Arizona Department of Administration is required to provide adequate office space to the Commission. In years ending in eight or nine, ADOA is required to submit a recommendation for a legislative appropriation that will adequately cover redistricting expenses. The Legislature is required to make the necessary appropriations by majority vote.
Prior to approval of Proposition 106 in 2000, the state legislature was responsible for redrawing congressional and legislative district lines.
Proposition 106, an initiative measure, proposed amendments to the Constitution of Arizona to establish a five member commission, rather than the state legislature, as the entity with the responsibility to determine the boundaries for congressional and legislative districts. The measure was approved by the electors at the November 7, 2000 general election as proclaimed by the Governor on November 27, 2000.
Since the IRC was established in 2000, there have been numerous challenges to the constitutionality of the districts drawn by the IRC, challenges to the IRC itself and issues related to open meeting laws and privilege. These are in addition to similar disputes related to redistricting in Arizona prior to the IRC. Although earlier actions are beyond the scope of this history, additional information may be found under the general legal topic of redistricting and reapportionment.
According to the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission website, new districts were most recently adopted in January, 2012 and the IRC prevailed in all litigation challenging its work. A new Commission will be appointed in 2021 to adopt district lines using information from the 2020 U.S. decennial census. https://azredistricting.org
Related Collections at Arizona State Archives
- Record Group 174 – Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission, 2001-2009